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The Complete Correspondence, 1928–1940

The Complete Correspondence, 1928–1940

Theodor W. Adorno, Walter Benjamin

Edited by Henri Lonitz
Translated by Nicholas Walker

ISBN 9780674006898

Publication date: 12/07/2001

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The correspondence between Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno, which appears here for the first time in its entirety in English translation, must rank among the most significant to have come down to us from that notable age of barbarism, the twentieth century. Benjamin and Adorno formed a uniquely powerful pair. Benjamin, riddle-like in his personality and given to tactical evasion, and Adorno, full of his own importance, alternately support and compete with each other throughout the correspondence, until its imminent tragic end becomes apparent to both writers. Each had met his match, and happily, in the other. This book is the story of an elective affinity. Adorno was the only person who managed to sustain an intimate intellectual relationship with Benjamin for nearly twenty years. No one else, not even Gershom Scholem, coaxed so much out of Benjamin.

The more than one hundred letters in this book will allow readers to trace the developing character of Benjamin's and Adorno's attitudes toward each other and toward their many friends. When this book appeared in German, it caused a sensation because it includes passages previously excised from other German editions of the letters--passages in which the two friends celebrate their own intimacy with frank remarks about other people. Ideas presented elliptically in the theoretical writings are set forth here with much greater clarity. Not least, the letters provide material crucial for understanding the genesis of Benjamin's Arcades Project.


  • To reconsider the relationship between Theodore Adorno and Walter Benjamin is to reflect on one of the most enduring philosophical friendships of the twentieth century.

    —Richard Wolin, New Republic


  • Theodor Adorno (1903–1969) was a leading figure in the Frankfurt School and one of the twentieth century's most demanding intellectuals. Recognized for his contributions to the fields of philosophy, sociology, aesthetics, literary criticism, and musicology, Adorno continues to be a thinker of extraordinary influence and importance in Germany, and his reputation continues to grow in the English-speaking world as his many works are translated.
  • Walter Benjamin (1892–1940) was the author of many works of literary and cultural analysis.

Book Details

  • 400 pages
  • 5-7/8 x 9 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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